For an artist, doing the sure thing, the thing one feels most comfortable with, is usually something close to what is traditionally called “the kiss of death”.
Repeating the same work over and over again has often taken artists from seemingly wonderful work into the realm of the tedious.
The same way, the “system” (to call it something) tends to force its hand by pushing artists into doing over and over again, and maybe with minor variations, those paintings by the artist which “sell”.
The end result may, although not necessarily, be a profitable return on investment, but it mostly turns a creative and artistically rich individual into a laconic, easily infuriated, and mostly frustrated artist.
I have tried my best to be as flexible as possible with the market. I will not deny that I accept that if the public likes something in my work, then it is up to me to give it to them. I accept and embrace the market. But I also make the effort to keep my art close to my heart rather than my pocket. That also means that I keep and feed the energy needed to try to produce something new every time I face blank canvas.
Those who know me and have seen me work, always mention that I quickly demystify the usual idea of the cool artist with a long brush in his or her hand, sitting in front of an easel contemplating life before every brushstroke.
Instead, I usually end up looking like a long distance cross country runner, feeling (and appearing) exhausted after a few hours of “running” free with my ideas and inspiration into a canvas. I suffer, walk, look, leave and comeback, and I work to the point of collapse.
That does not mean that the end result is better or worse, but there is a good chance that something in it will definitely be original. Most of my paintings will say one thing about me, and that is that I will not surrender to the temptation of mere repetition. I am always attempting, at the very least, to come up with something new, explore things I have not tried, and see if in the process I manage to grow, as a person and as an artist, a little bit more.
And to do this, I must jump off the proverbial cliff (or maybe at least “off a Clef”).
I believe that whenever you want to explore your talents, you must endeavor to go where you have not been before. And it does not matter if the cliff is 10 inches or 2 miles deep. The distance matters but the jump is the real key. It is feeling, at least for a moment, that there is nothing keeping you safe on the ground. It is that sensation that nothing you know will save you, so you must look into what you don´t know.
In creativity we may call that “divergent thinking” (term coined by Dr. J. P. Guilford during WWII). It is what happens when your brain faces something that for most people would mean crushing into a mountain, but you manage to come up, under pressure, with a new strategy to avoid it.
This is the experience of painting for me. It is looking for that “unknown factor” that will get my burning plane into a safe landing situation. In a simplified manner, I always say that my biggest thrill is when I manage to turn my mistakes into triumphs.
We all can do it. You just need to take a deep breath, make a quick run, and just jump off the cliff. As simple and as terrifying as that.
So, I dare you. Yes, let´s go together! Just get ready, set…
Until next time!
PS: I recommend you check out these exercises on “divergent thinking”: http://faculty.washington.edu/ezent/imdt.htm
©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera